August 31, 2012

Corrections deputy arrested for doctor shopping


Thanks to an alert doctor’s office and pharmacist working together, a corrections deputy who was doctor shopping has been arrested.

Dr. Andrew Wolczack’s office suspected 34 year old Jason Kroening might not be telling the truth about prescriptions he was receiving for narcotics. The doctor’s office contacted a pharmacist at the Marathon CVS pharmacy. The pharmacist consulted a database listing pharmaceuticals prescribed for individuals and discovered Kroening had obtained 13 prescriptions from four different doctors between April 1st and May 21st. – a 141 day supply of the drugs he received. The pharmacist contacted the Sheriff’s Office to report the activity.

Sheriff’s detectives began investigating, obtaining Kroening’s medical records from the different doctors and obtaining the records of the narcotics he’d been prescribed.

As a result of the investigation, Kroening was arrested today. He was charged with obtaining  prescriptions by fraud, also called “doctor shopping”. He was booked into jail.

Kroening worked for the Sheriff’s Office from June of 2000 until May of 2008. He resigned and was rehired in June of 2009. He has worked, since then, in Corrections.

In May, after the Sheriff’s Office became aware of his alleged crimes, he was removed from having any direct contact with inmates; he was also removed from any contact with department issued weapons or vehicles. He has been working in the main control room at the Stock Island Jail. The Sheriff has taken the issue of his employment under consideration and a decision about his status will be made soon.

Farmer Jeanne and Olivia on television

Farmer Jeanne Selander and Olivia the baby pot bellied pig will appear on Good Morning Florida Keys this morning on WEYW Channel 19. The topic of the show is the difficulties with keeping pets like Olivia, and how many people get such pets and then find they cannot keep them. Here is a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkgPNpentAo

Keys Energy worker electrocuted


Sheriff’s deputies and detectives responded to a home on Lundy Lane, Big Pine Key Thursday night to an electrocution.

Deputies Jaime Miranda and Andrew Hudson arrived at 7:20 p.m. at 29510 Lundy Lane. 29 year old Michael Euliss, Jr., who also works for Keys Energy Services, was on the roof of the home, administering cardio pulmonary resuscitation to the victim, 28 year old Joshua Yarbrough. The deputies climbed to the roof and took over performing CPR until rescue units arrived.

Using the Keys Energy bucket truck on the scene, Yarborough was brought down from the roof. Deputy Hudson continued CPR as Yarborough was lowered to the ground. The victim was then transported to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo was assigned to investigate the circumstances of Yarbrough’s death. Yarbrough and Euliss were on duty, working for Keys Energy Services at the time the electrocution took place.

August 27, 2012

Isaac update – recovery information. Monday, 12 noon Recovery information update


The National Hurricane Center has discontinued the tropical storm warning for the Florida Keys. A small craft advisory remains in effect until winds and seas subside.
 
Impacts from Isaac are not significant, according to Keys officials who participated in a Monday morning Monroe County Emergency Management teleconference.

The Florida Keys Overseas Highway (U.S. 1) is open without impediments.

Both Keys Energy and the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative reported their grids were serving almost all customers. Customers who do not have power, should be restored today. The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority reports normal operations with their systems.
  
Monroe County’s state of local emergency is being terminated as of 4 p.m. Monday and Monroe’s emergency operations center will close at the same time.

Shelters are closing as of noon today. The American Red Cross is standing by to help those who need housing assistance.

Key West International Airport is resuming operations at noon today and commercial air service is to return to normal schedules Tuesday, according to Peter Horton, director of Monroe County Airports. Florida Keys Marathon Airport has opened.

Visitors can return to the Keys beginning this afternoon. Some businesses might require a little more time and may not be fully operational until Wednesday. Tourism officials recommend visitors verify reservations.

All Keys state and county parks should be open by Tuesday.

The U.S. Coast Guard is resuming search and rescue operations beginning at noon today and assessing the Port of Key West, but Coast Guard officials anticipate the port will reopen this afternoon.

The Snake Creek Drawbridge in Islamorada will resume opening for marine traffic at noon today.

Law enforcement and fire-rescue departments throughout the county are operating as usual, as are the region’s hospitals.

All federal, state, county and municipal office; as well as courts, are to be open by Tuesday. Monroe County public schools are to reopen to students Wednesday, with some staff and faculty members reporting to work on Tuesday.

Schools are closed today and closed to students Tuesday. Students should return to classes Wednesday morning.
 
Municipal and county waste collection is to resume Tuesday.

Trash and recycle pickup schedule:

In the middle & upper Keys (7 mile bridge north):

·         Commercial and residential recycle pickup may operate one day behind the usual schedule (includes both recycle and separated yard debris)
·         Residential trash (garbage) collection will follow its regular schedules (Collectors will be picking up yard debris with trash as possible).

In the lower Keys and City of Key West (south of 7 mile bridge):

Mixed garbage and yard debris
·         Commercial accounts scheduled for Monday & Tuesday will be collected Tuesday after that regular schedule
·         Residential Monday pickups will not be made; regular schedules resume on Tuesday (expect Thursday to be heavier (due to cancelled Mondays)
·         Recycle: Residential recycle routes for Monday will be done on Tuesday; remainder of week will be one day behind and caught up by Saturday

###

Resources:
Monroe County's website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
Twitter: @mcsonews
Sheriff's website: www.keysso.net
Monroe County Emergency: 1-800-955-5504

Florida Keys tourism council
Website: www.fla-keys.com
Facebook: floridakeysandkeywest
Twitter: @thefloridakeys
Keys Visitor Assistance Line: 1-800-771-KEYS

More recovery notes



  • Emergency Operations Center will deactivate at 1 p.m. today
  • Airports will reopen today. First commercial flight at Key West will be 4:30 p.m.
  • State parks are reopening today and tomorrow. Contact them directly for details.
  • Shelters will close by noon today. The Red Cross is standing by to help anyone who needs housing assistance.
  • Most county and city offices will reopen for business tomorrow.

Trash and recycle pick up schedules following T.S. Isaac


Trash and recycle pickup schedule:

In the middle & upper Keys (7 mile bridge north):

-Commercial and residential recycle pickup may operate one day behind the usual schedule (includes both recycle and separated yard debris)
-Residential trash (garbage) collection will follow its regular schedules (Collectors will be picking up yard debris with trash as possible).

In the lower Keys and City of Key West (south of 7 mile bridge):

Mixed garbage and yard debris
-Commercial accounts scheduled for Monday & Tuesday will be collected Tuesday after that regular schedule
-Residential Monday pickups will not be made; regular schedules resume on Tuesday (expect Thursday to be heavier (due to cancelled Mondays)
Recycle
-Residential recycle routes for Monday will be done on Tuesday; remainder of week will be one day behind and caught up by Saturday

August 26, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac update – Sunday, 6 p.m.


Hurricane Warning for Keys Downgraded to Tropical Storm Warning

The National Hurricane Center in Miami downgraded the hurricane warning to a tropical storm warning for the Florida Keys at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The center of Isaac passed south of Key West as a tropical storm, with sustained winds about 60 mph.

Tropical storm-force winds are possible through the night. Officials continue to recommend residents and visitors to stay indoors through Sunday evening, but if they must go outside to use extreme caution. Be mindful of debris including downed powerlines that have not been reported to utility companies

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office continues to advise the public to stay off the roadways Sunday evening. Standing water can make it dangerous to drive. Many motorists have found themselves stranded after driving through water deeper than they realized. Driving through residential neighborhoods that might be inundated with water can cause a wake that can wash into people’s yards and homes.

There is still potential for one to three feet of storm surge until Isaac is well past the Keys, according to Andrew Devanas, science and operations officer at the Key West National Weather Service.

Thus far, there are few reported significant impacts in the county, according to Monroe County Emergency Management Director Irene Toner, but cautioned she would not have full field damage reports until Monday.

Spokesperson for both Keys electric companies — Florida Keys Electric Cooperative and Keys Energy — reported sporadic outages, but indicated that crews were able to quickly respond and restore service.

Spokespersons in Key West, Marathon, Layton and Key Colony Beach indicated some branches and small signs down, but no significant impacts.

Monroe County Airports Director Peter Horton reports no major issues thus far at Key West International Airport. He expects restoration of commercial air service into Key West Tuesday morning. Horton said he was still waiting for assessments from Florida Keys Marathon Airport.

Four Florida Keys shelters will remain open until noon Monday.

These are numbers of current occupants in Florida Keys' storm shelters, according Toner, are:

Key West High School, 2100 Flagler Avenue, Key West - 89
Sugarloaf School, mile marker 19, on Sugarloaf Key - 12
Stanley Switlik School, MM 48, in Marathon - 14
Coral Shores High School, MM 90, in Islamorada - 2

All county and municipal offices -- including courts -- are closed Monday. Monroe public schools are to be closed to students and teachers Monday and to students Tuesday.

County and municipal garbage pickups are canceled Monday, so residents are asked to not place refuse containers outside residences and businesses.

All Keys hospitals are open and fire/rescue and law enforcement services are operating at this time.

###

Resources:
Monroe County's website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
Twitter: @mcsonews
Sheriff's website: www.keysso.net
Monroe County Emergency: 1-800-955-5504

Emergency officials ready for storm, and it’s aftermath


Isaac update – 10 a.m.

Emergency Management officials met on a conference call this morning with weather forecasters from the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center, and emergency responders from the county, cities, utilities, hospitals, the federal government and others to discuss Tropical Storm Isaac as it begins to impact the Florida Keys.

The center of the storm is expected to cross the Florida Keys a little earlier than projected. People should see the worst storm winds beginning late this afternoon, subsiding by early morning hours Monday.

There are 115 people who have taken advantage of shelters open countywide, at Key West High School, Sugarloaf School, Stanley Switlik School in Marathon and Coral Shores High School in Islamorada. It is still not too late for those who feel unsafe to get to these shelters.

Everyone who remained in the Keys should now find safe shelter and stay indoors for the duration of the storm. Bands of wind and rain will become more frequent and more severe as the day passes. Low lying areas have begun seeing some flooding in areas where flooding is expected during heavy rains, and it is not safe for people to be out on the roadways driving around. Law Enforcement, firefighters and paramedics are on duty and will be responding to emergencies when it is possible to do so. They will not, however, venture out if conditions are not safe for them.

There have been periodic electrical outages throughout the Keys. Keys Energy and Florida Keys Electric Co-op are doing all they can to respond to those outages and restore power. Their crews will also only respond when it is safe for them to do so.

After the storm passes, Emergency responders are prepared to assess damage, respond to emergency calls for assistance and begin to clean up whatever the storm leaves behind. In the meantime, stay safe, stay inside and be careful.

Update: Isaac, 7 a.m. Sunday

Keys Officials: Stay Indoors During Isaac

Florida Keys emergency management and law enforcement officials are directing visitors and residents to remain indoors when Tropical Storm Isaac moves through the island chain today and Monday morning.

With the expected arrival of tropical storm force winds along the island chain soon, officials are no longer advising visitors to leave, citing deteriorating weather conditions will soon make driving on Keys roads too dangerous.

"You've chosen to remain in the Keys during this storm and the only safe place for you to be is indoors," said Monroe County Emergency Management Director Irene Toner. "Stay off roads and don't go outside.

"Our goal is to keep everyone safe," she emphasized.

Officials asked travelers with plans to visit the Keys during the next few days to postpone them until after the storm passes and an infrastructure assessment is conducted. Contact lodging properties directly for their status or view post-Isaac updates on the tourism infrastructure that are to be available at www.fla-keys.com. Tourism officials aspire that Keys visitor facilities will be fully operational prior to the upcoming Labor Day Weekend.

Four county shelters are open including Key West High School at 2100 Flagler Ave.; Sugarloaf School, mile marker 19 on Sugarloaf Key; Stanley Switlik School, at MM 48 in Marathon and Coral Shores High School at MM 90 in Islamorada.

All federal, state, county and municipal parks and beaches are closed. Keys airports and the Port of Key West is closed as well.

All county and municipal offices — including courts — are closed Monday. Monroe public schools are to be closed to students and teachers Monday and to students Tuesday.

County and municipal garbage pickups are canceled Monday, so residents are asked to not place refuse containers outside residences and businesses. Keep them secured in a garage or another inside location so they do not become projectiles.

All Keys hospitals are open and fire/rescue and law enforcement services are operating at this time. Hospitals are to remain operational during and after the storm, but county fire rescue units evaluate their ability to respond when winds reach gale force, according to Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief Jim Callahan.

Tropical storm-force conditions are forecast to continue through Monday morning, according to Jon Rizzo, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Key West National Weather Service office. There is a slight chance of minimal Category 1 hurricane effects on portions of the Middle and Lower Keys.

###

Resources:
Monroe County's website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
Twitter: @mcsonews
Sheriff's website: www.keysso.net
Monroe County Emergency: 1-800-955-5504

Florida Keys tourism council
Website: www.fla-keys.com
Facebook: floridakeysandkeywest
Twitter: @thefloridakeys
Keys Visitor Assistance Line: 1-800-771-KEYS

August 25, 2012

Isaac Update - 5 p.m.


Recommended Visitor Egress Continues;
Traffic Flow on U.S. 1 Reported as Smooth

A hurricane warning continues for the Florida Keys and officials continue to urge visitors to leave the region if they have the means to. Their trips to the mainland should be completed by Saturday night, because weather conditions are expected to dramatically deteriorate early Sunday morning.

Traffic on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway (U.S. 1) is flowing smoothly at the speed limit, according to Col. Rick Ramsay, of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Tolls have been lifted on Card Sound Road.

The Snake Creek Drawbridge, in the Upper Keys, is locked, in the down position to facilitate vehicular traffic. High profile boats will not be able to obtain a bridge opening until well after the storm passes.

Visitors who don’t have transportation out of the Keys, can stay but are directed to remain indoors throughout the storm. Residents should heed the same advice.

Visitors that have immediate or near-term plans to visit the Keys must postpone their trips until after the storm passes and infrastructure assessments are completed.

The four county shelters open include Key West High School at 2100 Flagler Ave.; Sugarloaf School, mile marker 19; Stanley Switlik School, at MM 48 in Marathon and Coral Shores High School at MM 90  in Islamorada have opened. People going to shelters must bring their own supplies and bedding.

Storm preparations, including the securing of property and boats, should be completed by Saturday evening.

All federal, state, county and municipal parks and beaches are closed or are closing. All recreation and other high-profile vehicles should leave the Keys. All residents of mobile homes, boats and those in low-lying areas are urged to move to safe buildings or shelters.

Monroe County Airports Director Peter Horton said Key West International Airport is to close Saturday night just after 7 p.m. Florida Keys Marathon Airport is closed. Horton said about 35 cars remain to be rented in Key West and about 10 in Marathon.

Both the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission authorities said they have limited ability to respond to marine incidents because of their own storm preparations. Coast Guard officials announced the Port of Key West would close to all maritime traffic at 11 p.m. Saturday and remain close until after the storm passes and navigational aids can be inspected.

All county and municipal offices and public schools are to be closed to all Monday and to students Tuesday. County and municipal garbage pickup is canceled Monday, so residents are asked to not place refuse containers outside residences and businesses.

All Keys hospitals are opened and fire/rescue and law enforcement services are operating at this time. Hospitals are to remain open during and after the storm, but county fire rescue units evaluate their ability to respond when winds reach gale force, according to Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief Jim Callahan.

 Andrew Devanas, the science officer at the Key West National Weather Service, projected to following impacts of Isaac, based on the 5 p.m. Saturday National Hurricane Center forecast.

• Tropical storm-force winds should be arriving in the Keys around sunrise Sunday morning and exiting the Keys late Monday morning.

• The center of circulation should be over the Keys, between Key West and Marathon beginning Sunday night, as a strong tropical storm or weak Category 1 hurricane. There is an 85 percent chance for tropical storm-force winds and a 15 percent chance for hurricane-force winds.

• Tropical storm-force winds should extend more than 200 miles from the center.

• Expected rainfall amounts of six to 10 inches.

• There is the possibility of isolated tornadoes.

• Storm surge is expected to be one to three feet, perhaps as high as four feet at points in the Lower Keys.

###

Resources:
Monroe County’s website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
Twitter: @mcsonews
Sheriff’s website: www.keysso.net
Monroe County Emergency: 1-800-955-5504

Florida Keys tourism council
Website: www.fla-keys.com
Facebook: floridakeysandkeywest
Twitter: @thefloridakeys
Keys Visitor Assistance Line: 1-800-771-KEYS

Media contacts: Becky Herrin, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, 305-797-0155
                          Andy Newman, Florida Keys Tourism Council, 305-542-6014

T.S. Isaac update - 9:45 a.m.


As  Tropical Storm Isaac continues to approach, people need to stay up to date on what the storm is expected to do. The weather will continue to deteriorate throughout the day today with bands of wind and rain coming through periodically.  Tropical Storm winds will most likely begin to impact the Keys early in the morning on Sunday and throughout the day Sunday. Sunday night into Monroe morning, it is possible that category one winds will impact some if not all of the Keys. Winds will then taper off during the day on Monday.

Due to the Hurricane Warning currently in effect for the Florida keys, The Office of Emergency Management has decided to open a fourth shelter to accommodate those people in the Keys who want to have a safe place to go during the approaching storm. Shelters which will be open as of 2 p.m. today:

·         Key West High School on Flagler Avenue in Key West
·         Sugarloaf School on Upper Sugarloaf Key
·         Stanley Switlik School in Marathon
·         Coral Shores High School in Islamorada

Mobile home residents, people who live in low lying areas and those who reside on their boats are directed to seek shelter at one of the designated shelter facilities. If you plan to go to a shelter, make sure to bring all necessary supplies with you. The shelters WILL NOT have any supplies. Bring bedding, food, medicine and anything you might need to entertain yourself and your family members. Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed in the shelters. Monroe County Shelters are pet friendly, but if you bring your pet with you, the pet will be housed in a separate location from where people are housed.

Because of this change in status, Monroe County Emergency Management is now making a strong recommendation that visitors to the Florida Keys leave the county if they are able to do so safely. Tropical Storm Force winds will begin to hit the island chain on Sunday morning, so those who can leave should do so this morning (Saturday).

For those visitors who choose to remain, Emergency Management Director Irene Toner says she is directing them to stay inside during the storm. “If you choose to remain in the county during this storm, the only safe place for you to be is inside. Our goal here is to keep everyone safe,” she said.

There are many areas on county and city roadways where water does not drain well, or where saltwater encroaches on the roadway, making driving hazardous. In residential areas, people driving through standing water can cause wakes which can wash into yards and into homes. Due to all of these issues, people should not be driving anywhere during the storm.

·         The Snake Creek Bridge will be locked in the down position as of 3 p.m. today.
·         County offices, Sheriff’s Offices, Schools and the County Courts will be closed on Monday. Of course Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, law enforcement and corrections personnel, firefighters and paramedics will still be working to keep residents safe and secure.
·         Key West International Airport will be stopping commercial air traffic Saturday evening at 7 p.m. and all day Sunday. Flights will resume when tropical storm force winds subside and it is judged safe to resume traffic. People should keep in touch with their commercial carriers for details. Marathon airport will also close as of 7 p.m. Saturday.
·         Many state parks have already closed and more will be closing throughout the day as the storm approaches.

Everyone in the Florida Keys should be watching the storm very closely as conditions and timing of the storm remain in flux. Make sure to complete storm preparations on Saturday because the storm, as of today, is projected to arrive early on Sunday.

The Emergency Information hot line number is active, and will have an up to date recorded message with information about the development and approach of the storm. That number is 1-800-955-5504. You can also get up to date information about the storm in the following locations:

·         Monroe County’s website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
·         The Sheriff’s Office Blog: floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com
·         Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
·         Twitter: @mcsonews
·         Sheriff’s website: www.keysso.net


Hurricane Warning for the Florida Keys


Due to changing storm conditions, the National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Warning for the entire Florida Keys. This is in addition to the current Tropical Storm Warning issued earlier. The track of Tropical Storm Isaac is now taking it over the Florida keys Sunday as a Category One Hurricane.

Because of this change in status, Monroe County Emergency Management is now making a strong recommendation that visitors to the Florida Keys leave the county if they are able to do so safely. Tropical Storm Force winds will begin to hit the island chain on Sunday morning, so those who can leave should do so this morning (Saturday).

For those visitors who choose to remain, Emergency Management Director Irene Toner says she is directing them to stay inside during the storm. “If you choose to remain in the county during this storm, the only safe place for you to be is inside. Our goal here is to keep everyone safe,” she said.

Mobile home residents, low lying areas residents and those residing on their boats are also directed to seek shelter at one of the designated shelter facilities. Shelters will be opening at Key West High School, Stanley Switlik School in Marathon and Coral Shores High School at 2:00 pm today, Saturday. Stand by as more shelter locations may be announced later today. If you plan to go to a shelter, make sure to bring all necessary supplies with you. The shelters WILL NOT have any supplies. Bring bedding, food, medicine and anything you might need to entertain yourself and your family members. Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed in the shelters. Monroe County Shelters are pet friendly, but if you bring your pet with you, the pet will be housed in a separate location from where people are housed.

There are many areas on county and city roadways where water does not drain well, or where saltwater encroaches on the roadway, making driving hazardous. In residential areas, people driving through standing water can cause wakes which can wash into yards and into homes. Due to all of these issues, people should not be driving anywhere during the storm.

County offices, Sheriff’s Offices, Schools and the County Courts will be closed on Monday. Of course Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, law enforcement and corrections personnel, firefighters and paramedics will still be working to keep residents safe and secure.

Key West International Airport will be stopping commercial air traffic Saturday evening at 7 p.m. and all day Sunday. Flights will resume when tropical storm force winds subside and it is judged safe to resume traffic. People should keep in touch with their commercial carriers for details.

Everyone in the Florida Keys should be watching the storm very closely as conditions and timing of the storm remain in flux. Make sure to complete storm preparations on Saturday because the storm, as of today, is projected to arrive early on Sunday.

The Emergency Information hot line number is active, and will have an up to date recorded message with information about the development and approach of the storm. That number is 1-800-955-5504. You can also get up to date information about the storm in the following locations:

·         Monroe County’s website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
·         The Sheriff’s Office Blog: floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com
·         Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
·         Twitter: @mcsonews
·         Sheriff’s website: www.keysso.net


Some detailed information from the National Weather Service overnight:

Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for all of the Florida Keys, with a Hurricane Watch added on top.  This means tropical storm force winds are expected to begin within 36 hours, though with such a strong tropical storm expected to pass over or near the Keys, there is a possibility of hurricane force winds.  The change in status was made this evening due to the reconnaissance aircraft finding improved organization within the core of Tropical Storm Isaac and its tropical storm force winds extending further out from its center--meaning it's quite a large sized tropical storm.

IMPACTS:

Wind:  Tropical storm force winds are expected to reach the Keys as early as the early morning (predawn) hours Sunday...generally in the 5 and 8 am range from Marathon through Islamorada up through Ocean Reef.  For the Lower Keys and Key West, tropical storm force winds may begin later, in the 7 am to 10 am range, Sunday morning.  The peak winds, which may reach 50 to 65 mph, will likely occur during the afternoon and evening hours.  There is a small chance for category 1 hurricane force winds for some portion of the Keys during that time.   Tropical Storm force winds may end during the morning hours Monday in the Middle and Upper Keys, but could last into early afternoon in the Lower Keys and Key West.  The main impacts are likely to be power outages and fallen trees and tree limbs.  Some damage to awnings and standalone carports may also occur.

Storm Tide:  Storm tides of 2 to 4 feet are expected, with the best chance of that occurring along the oceanside of the Keys after the core of Isaac passes by, which will cause the winds to become southeast.  The high tide Sunday evening occurs generally between 5 and 8 pm.  Around that time, winds will be coming around out of the east, and some overwash will be possible oceanside on Lower Matecumbe, but at this time it doesn't look like it will be a significant surge.  With winds near their peak, there will be heavy wave action.  As winds become southeast from the Upper Keys to Key West Sunday evening, expect water to remain steady in the Upper Keys, but begin to rise along the Middle and Lower Keys.  The higher high tide occurs Monday morning generally from 5 to 8 am on the oceanside.  Although southeast winds may be decreasing, the peak storm tide may occur at this time.  These levels are probably going to cause some inundation near Sea Oats Beach with continued wave action.  These tides will also cause some inundation on oceanside streets throughout the Keys, and in Key West, the southernmost blocks near from Bertha Street through Southernmost Point.  Expect overwash with heavy wave action on South Roosevelt as well.  The Monday evening high tides, generally 6 to 9 pm, will not be as high, but expect some continued wave action and splashover at Key West as gusty southerly winds (below tropical storm force though) continue.  If this forecast track holds...the Upper Keys will see a rise in water levels Sunday afternoon and evening...probably not much change when the onshore winds are near their peak, and then a little more rise towards Monday morning.  After sunrise, there should be steady fall.  For the Middle and Lower Keys, the Sunday high tides comes before the winds become onshore.  So, expect a gradual rise in water as the wind shifts late in the evening, with a more sudden rise with the Monday morning high tide.  Tides will fall when the winds decrease after sunrise Monday. 

Tornadoes:  Isolated tornadoes will be possible with rain bands, mainly for locations east of where the center of Isaac passes through the Keys.  These tornadoes can produce narrow paths of significant damage and can develop with little advance warning.

Rainfall:  Rainfall of 6 to 10 inches is expected throughout the Keys, with most of the rain falling from Sunday morning through Monday morning.  The high tides combined with some storm surge will cause significant street and yard flooding in areas that historically see street flooding.  The lowest elevation neighborhoods may also experience some home and business flooding. 

August 24, 2012

Update: Tropical Storm Isaac, 6 p.m. Friday


Monroe County Emergency Management Officials met this afternoon to review plans as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches the Florida Keys. They continue to be in constant contact with the National Weather Service and the Hurricane Center as they monitor the storm very closely. A local state of emergency was declared in Monroe County today at noon.

The latest forecast shows Isaac crossing the Keys as a Tropical Storm. The National Weather Service says Keys residents can expect tropical storm force winds to begin a little earlier than was projected yesterday. People should plan for tropical storm force winds to begin in the Keys Sunday mid morning; winds should continue throughout the day and into Monday morning. Accompanying those winds will be periods of heavy rain.

Because of the change in timing for the storm, three shelters will open at select Monroe County Schools Saturday. Shelters at Key West High School, Stanley Switlik School in Marathon and Coral Shores High School in Islamorada will be open as of 2 p.m. on Saturday. People who do not feel safe in their homes may go to those shelters to ride out the storm. If you live in a mobile home, on board a boat, in a low lying area or are homeless, County officials strongly recommend you go to a shelter for your own safety.

If you plan to go to a shelter, make sure to bring all necessary supplies with you. The shelters WILL NOT have any supplies. Bring bedding, food, medicine and anything you might need to entertain yourself and your family members. Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed in the shelters. Monroe County Shelters are pet friendly, but if you bring your pet with you, the pet will be housed in a separate location from where people are housed.

Because the storm is projected to cross the Keys as a Tropical Storm and not a Hurricane, officials have decided NOT to order a visitor evacuation at this time. Visitors who choose to stay in the Keys during the storm should keep in mind, however, that a Tropical Storm can still produce high winds and heavy rains. During the storm, officials would ask everyone – visitors and residents -  to avoid driving during the dangerous weather. Winds will also cause heavy rains and high seas, making any activities on the water extremely dangerous as well.

There are many areas on county and city roadways where water does not drain well, or where saltwater encroaches on the roadway, making driving hazardous. In residential areas, people driving through standing water can cause wakes which can wash into yards and into homes. Due to all of these issues, people should not be driving anywhere during the storm.

County offices, Sheriff’s Offices, Schools and the County Courts will be closed on Monday. Of course Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, law enforcement and corrections personnel, firefighters and paramedics will still be working to keep residents safe and secure.

Key West International Airport will most likely stop commercial traffic Saturday evening and all day Sunday. Flights will resume when tropical storm force winds subside and it is judged safe to resume traffic. People should keep in touch with their commercial carriers for details.

Everyone in the Florida Keys should be watching the storm very closely as conditions and timing of the storm remain in flux. Make sure to complete storm preparations on Saturday because the storm, as of today, is projected to arrive early on Sunday.

The Emergency Information hot line number is active, and will have an up to date recorded message with information about the development and approach of the storm. That number is 1-800-955-5504. You can also get up to date information about the storm in the following locations:

·         Monroe County’s website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
·         The Sheriff’s Office Blog: floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com
·         Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
·         Twitter: @mcsonews
·         Sheriff’s website: www.keysso.net

August 23, 2012

Emergency Management, Sheriff's Office closely monitoring Isaac


The Monroe County Office of Emergency Management is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac as it makes it’s slow approach to the Florida Keys. As of Thursday evening, there are no protective action recommendations for Florida Keys residents and visitors.

Everyone should be monitoring the storm closely, however, and should be making preparations for it. The forecast track takes the storm over the Keys and as of this afternoon, the National Weather Service says tropical storm force winds may begin to affect us Sunday evening with the worst of the storm hitting the Keys into Monday morning. Storm conditions are expected to continue through Monday and possibly into Tuesday.

Emergency Management Director Irene Toner anticipates a local state of emergency being declared on Friday, and anticipates a Level 2 activation  – that is a partial activation with minimum staffing.  

She says she does not anticipate an evacuation of Monroe County residents at this time, although everyone should be making preparations, securing their homes and property, putting up shutters and securing loose items. Stock up on medications, water, batteries, canned food and other items that might be necessary if there is an extended power outage.

County officials are considering the possibility of a visitor evacuation possibly on Saturday, however the decision has not  yet been made and will depend on how the situation develops as the storm gets closer. Continue to monitor local media and the social media sites at the bottom of this page for updated information.

Shelters at select area schools will open Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. Officials recommend people who live in low lying areas, in mobile homes or those who are homeless plan to go to shelters until after the storm. The shelters to open are at Key West High School, Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Marathon and Coral Shores High School. Make sure if you plan to go to a shelter, you bring all you need with you. There will NOT be any food, bedding or supplies available at the shelters.

County offices, Sheriff’s Offices and the County Courts will be closed on Monday. Of course Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, law enforcement and corrections personnel will still be working to keep residents safe and secure.

Again, make sure you watch this storm closely. Listen to local radio stations and watch local television stations for any developments. Updates will be posted in several locations for the public’s viewing:

Monroe County’s website: www.monroecounty-fl.gov
The Sheriff’s Office Blog: floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com
Facebook: MCSO-Florida Keys
Twitter: @mcsonews
Sheriff’s website: www.keysso.net

Tow company operator arrested for fraud


 A Lower Keys tow company operator was arrested today, charged with committing fraud by billing AAA Auto Club South for fictitious tows.

According to Detective David Cruz, between July of 2011 and April of 2012, 49 year old Frank Sciortino, owner of Scott Brother’s Towing, defrauded AAA out of over $60,000.00 by falsely billing them for long distance tows that never took place. The fraud scheme was reported to the Sheriff’s Office by a former employee of the tow company.

 Detective Cruz, during his investigation, identified 156 long distance tows of 70 miles or more. The tows were attributed to AAA memberships from 17 different household addresses in Key West, Big Coppitt Key and Cudjoe Key. All 17 addresses were contacted and there were no actual AAA members at any of them. Detective Cruz contacted 35 final tow destinations, none of which had a record of the vehicles in question.

Sciortino was arrested today on a warrant charging him with grand theft and fraud. He was booked into jail.

Housekeeper arrested for stealing, cashing checks


A Fort Lauderdale woman, hired by a Key Largo man to perform housekeeping duties in June, stole two checks while working for him.

The victim was contacted by Capitol Bank after a teller became suspicious when 52 year old Carol Barrett tried to cash one of the checks for $1,000.00 on July 2nd. The victim told the teller not to cash the check. She fled before the victim could arrive at the bank to confront her, but not before the teller saw her driver’s license and wrote the DL number on the back of the check.

Detective Robert Dosh was assigned to investigate. The bank teller told him Barrett had cashed another of the victim’s checks for $300.00 several days before. The victim told Detective Dosh he never paid Barrett by check; only by cash. He said he’d terminated her employment on June 27th but didn’t realize two of his checks were missing.

Both the victim and the bank teller made a positive identification of Barrett from a photo line up. A warrant was issued for her arrest. On Wednesday, she was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of two counts of uttering a forged check, two counts possessing a forged check and grand theft. 

August 22, 2012

Alert deputies arrest man near upper Keys business


Key Largo – A 27 year old man from Palmetto Bay, Florida is under arrest after he was caught in the early morning hours today, dressed all in black, walking around an upper Keys business which had been closed for hours.

Deputy Brian Cross spotted Yandy Hernandez Aguado in the vicinity of Boats Direct at 12:30 a.m. Hernandez Aguado was dressed all in black and, when he saw the deputy, he tried to hide from him.

Sergeants E.B. Askins and Jason Madnick responded to back up Deputy Cross. They confronted Hernandez Aguado, asking what he was doing there. The suspect said a girl, whose name he didn’t know, had dropped him off there. He claimed to be staying at a hotel next to a Home Depot – the closest Home Depot in the Keys is in Marathon, 50 miles away.

Due to his inconsistent and improbable explanations, the officers continued to investigate. They found a key in his pocket which was found to operate a vehicle parked at a nearby convenience store. In the vehicle they found gloves, wire cutters, pliers and other tools. A backpack was also found near where the officers encountered the suspect, hidden behind a concrete partition. In the backpack were more tools including a pry bar, wire cutters, screw drivers and one red and black glove. A second matching glove was found in the suspect’s back pocket.

Hernandez Aguado was arrested. He was charged with loitering and prowling and  possession of burglary tools. He was booked into jail.

Key West man charged with stealing, pawning jewelry


Big Pine Key – A Key West man is in jail charged with stealing three gold rings from his employer and pawning them.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office August 1st and said the rings were missing from his house. He told Deputy Martin Harbin he kept them in a desk drawer. He said one of his employees, 28 year old Kenny Hoage, stayed with him for a while and he believed he may have taken them.

Detective Diane Mimosa was assigned to investigate. She began checking local pawn shops and found that Hoage had, indeed, pawned the rings at a Big Pine Key pawn shop. He told the pawn shop owner they belonged to his uncle who had recently passed away.

A warrant was obtained for Hoage and on Tuesday, he was charged with fraudulently pawning the jewelry and with grand theft. He is currently in the Monroe County jail.

Two Marathon women charged with stealing fishing equipment


Marathon – Two Marathon women are under arrest after being caught on video tape stealing fishing equipment from Ocean Isles Fishing Village.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office Friday to report his fishing rods and reels were missing. He said he left them outside on the deck at the back of his apartment. He told Deputy Sydney Whitehouse he last saw them on the 14th, and noticed they were gone on the morning of the 17th.

On Monday, the victim called back with more information. Deputy Nicholis Whiteman responded back to ocean Isles Fishing Village. The victim and the property manager showed Deputy Whiteman video tape of two women taking the fishing equipment. Deputy Whiteman recognized the two women from previous contacts as 22 year old Sandra Day and 28 year old Carlie Rivera, both of Marathon.

After Deputy Whiteman confronted Rivera about the video, which clearly showed her and Day taking the items, she returned the stolen equipment which was identified by the victim as his.

Rivera and Day were arrested and charged with grand theft. The property was returned to the owner.

August 21, 2012

Man, woman arrested for fraudulently selling advertising


 A man and woman from Okeechobee, Florida are in custody, charged with fraudulently selling advertising to Monroe County businesses.

47 year old Timothy Lee Smith and 48 year old Melinda Joiner sold advertising on pizza boxes through a company they called Melinda Joiner Publications. They would solicit businesses to buy the ads; Smith would then take a sample box and a contract into each business and have company representatives sign a contract and write a check for the advertising up front. The checks, written to Joiner, would then be cashed by her.

Detective Yunier Galvez was assigned to investigate six Upper Keys cases. He found, during his investigation, that his suspects were in Okeechobee, Florida. He called the Okeechobee Sheriff’s Office for assistance. A detective with that agency interviewed Joiner in connection with the Monroe County cases. During the interview, she admitted to taking money from the businesses and spending it on hotels, restaurants and other personal expenses; she admitted to never producing the advertisements the businesses paid for.

Detective Galvez obtained warrants for both Joiner and Smith. Joiner was arrested in Texas earlier this month and was returned to the Keys over the weekend to face six grand theft counts. Smith is currently in custody in Sarasota, Florida and he will also be returned to the Keys to face six counts of grand theft and six counts of fraud.

Detective Galvez is still investigating, along with detectives from the lower Keys and Key West, where there may also be pending cases. Anyone with information about any potential victims of these two people should contact the Sheriff’s Office or Key West Police.

August 20, 2012

Former Bailiff passes

A former Sheriff's Office Bailiff has passed away. Andy Alonzo worked for the Sheriff's office from July of 1988 until July of 1998. Our thoughts are with his family. He will be missed. Here is the obituary from the Key West Citizen, published on Saturday.

August 19, 2012

Two Miami men arrested for molesting traps, illegal lobster



Two suspects with their boat and the stolen lobster trap.
Photo courtesy of Deputy Michael Cofield.
A Sheriff’s Office marine deputy on patrol arrested two Miami men Saturday who stole a trap filled with illegal lobster.

Deputy Mike Cofield was on the water shortly after noon, on patrol offshore of the 78.5 mile marker when he spotted a small vessel painted in brown camouflage. The boat was traveling at a high rate of speed in an “idle only” zone in the vicinity of Indian Key Fill, on the gulfside.

When Deputy Cofield conducted a vessel stop, he saw a lobster trap on the boat. Inside the trap were 17 undersized lobster and one legal sized lobster. Deputy Cofield contacted the trap’s owner who told him no one had permission to have his trap and that he wanted to press charges.

37 year old Alain Carrazana and 49 year old Gilberto Carrazana, both of Miami, were arrested. They were charged with trap molesting, 17 counts possession of undersized lobster and possession of lobster over the legal limit. They were both booked into jail. The lobster were returned alive to the water.

Upon interviewing them, the men said they found the trap on the bottom and were bringing it back to shore. They said they intended to call law enforcement and ask if they could keep the trap. They said they intended to return the undersized lobster to the water later.

August 18, 2012

Brawl at Key Largo restaurant sends one to jail


Key Largo – A 43 year old Key Largo man is in jail after striking a man with a rock and throwing another rock at a waitress at Sharkey’s Restaurant in Key Largo Friday night.

According to witnesses, Carlos Ponce got into a fight with another man inside the restaurant at 9 p.m. after pushing people around and “bullying” them away from the pool tables inside. The fight moved outside into the parking lot where Ponce picked up two large coral rocks.

Two young men who saw the fight tried to intervene. Ponce pushed one of them to the ground and hit the other one in the face with the rock. He threw the second rock at a waitress who had approached the area where the fight was taking place. He then fled the scene before deputies arrived.

Ponce was  found at a nearby bar and was returned to the scene, where he was identified by witnesses and victims. He was placed under arrest, charged with aggravated battery, aggravated assault and disorderly conduct. He was booked into jail.

The victim was treated at the scene for injuries from being hit with the rock.

August 17, 2012

Life saving award

Deputy Todd Wyatt received a Phoenix Award from Islamorada Fire Department for his assistance in saving a woman’s life in June. Here he is holding his award, with Sgt. Eric Mixon.

Trauma Star goes to PAL camp

Monroe County Trauma Star helicopter and it’s crew made an appearance on Stock Island, to visit with kids attending the Police Athletic League camp in the Lower Keys.

August 15, 2012

Islamorada man arrested with marijuana


Deputies arrested an Islamorada man who had a large quantity of marijuana after a report he was driving recklessly.

Deputy Luis Gomez was at the 78 mile marker of the highway dealing with a disabled vehicle at 4:30 p.m. when dispatchers received a report of a reckless driver in a red van at the 76 mile marker northbound. Deputy Gomez spotted the van, got behind it and saw it cross the with line on the side of the road several times.

When he pulled the van over, he approached the driver, identified as 60 year old Steven Andrews of Islamorada. Deputy Gomez smelled the distinct odor of marijuana coming from the van, so he asked Andrews for permission to look inside the van for weapons or drugs.

Andrews denied having either drugs or weapons, and gave the deputy permission. Inside of a backpack Deputy Gomez found plastic bags filled with marijuana. As he found the marijuana, Andrews said, “I can’t believe you checked. Cops always ask to check bur they never do!” He then asked Deputy Gomez to “help him out” and to let him throw the drugs away. He said some of it was his and some he was delivering to a friend of his. He told the deputy if he was arrested, he would lose his new job.

Gomez arrested Andrews. The marijuana, which was packaged in eight separate bags, weighed a total of 163 grams. He was charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He was booked into jail.

August 14, 2012

Hawks Cay Resort victim of attempted robbery


Sheriff’s detectives are investigating an attempted armed robbery at Hawk’s Cay Resort early Monday.

Employees working at the resort’s front desk say two men wearing black and armed with a handgun entered the building at 2 a.m. The suspects pointed a handgun at them, demanding keys to the safe. When none of the employees could produce the keys, the suspects unsuccessfully tried to pry the safe open with a crowbar they brought with them.

During the confrontation, two of the employees were pushed to the ground. One received a cut on her head and the other was hit in the face. Suspects stole an Iphone from one of them. When suspects walked away, one of the employees was able to call for help.

The suspects are described as young black males, wearing all black clothing including black hats and black bandanas over their faces. Both suspects were wearing gloves.

Anyone with information about the case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at tipsubmit.com.

August 13, 2012

Marathon teen charged with breaking windows, pushing man who confronted him


Marathon – A Marathon teen was arrested Sunday in the early morning hours for throwing rocks through the windows of occupied apartments.

Deputies were dispatched to apartments at 240 Sombrero Road just before 6 a.m. Dispatchers received two separate phone calls from that location. One caller said someone had just broken a bunch of windows in the apartment complex. The other caller said he was being confronted by two men, one who was armed with a handgun.

When they arrived, a crowd had gathered. People told deputies someone had thrown rocks through several windows; one woman said she was sleeping and a rock came through a window right next to her bed. Two men said they had gone to the apartment of a teenager named Bryan Echevarria who they believed had broken the windows. They said when they confronted Echevarria, he pushed one of them. One of the two men admitted to being armed during the confrontation. He said he was carrying a handgun in his waistband, but never pointed it at anyone. That man produced a current concealed weapons permit allowing him to carry the gun.

Witnesses described a young male wearing white shorts seen hiding behind some stairs in the area at the time the windows were broken.  A surveillance camera belonging to one of the victims showed a male wearing white shorts and black shoes walk by the back window of their apartment at the same time the window was broken by a rock

Deputies Nancy Torrios and Nicholis Whiteman interviewed 17 year old  Echeverria, who lives at the complex and who was wearing the same clothing seen in the video. When confronted, Echeverria admitted to throwing rocks through the windows. He also admitted to pushing the man during the confrontation about the windows.

Echeverria was arrested. He was charged with two counts of breaking the windows of occupied dwellings, one count of breaking a vehicle window and one count of battery for pushing the man. He was booked at the Marathon Detention Center.

Two Miami men arrested for robbing traps


Islamorada – Two Miami men were taken to jail Sunday, after a Sheriff’s Office marine officer caught them robbing traps offshore of Lower Matecumbe Key.

Deputy Nelson Sanchez was on patrol on the water at 3:40 p.m. when he spotted the two men diving near a power pole without a dive flag. As he drove closer to them, they spotted him and began acting nervously.

Deputy Sanchez spotted a a couple of traps near where the men were diving, and saw a white bag on the bottom near the traps. When he pulled the bag to the surface with his boat hook, he saw small lobster tails inside.

An Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer arrived as back up. As Deputy Sanchez kept an eye on the two men, the FWC officer jumped in the water and saw clear hand prints in the thick silt covering the traps, indicating someone had been recently tampering with them.

The men at first claimed they’d gotten the tails from the base of the power pole. When Deputy Sanchez asked them if they’d “at least closed the trap” after taking the lobster, one of the men assured the deputy he had closed the trap after removing the lobster from it.

Both men were arrested. 25 year old Alejandro Chao-Garcia and 41 year old Hugo Diaz-Gallardo were both charged with possessing undersized lobster and possession of wrung tails on the water. Garcia was further charged with tampering with evidence for dropping the bag as the officer approached. Gallardo was further charged with molesting traps after he admitted to taking the lobster from the traps.

August 10, 2012

Take Stock graduate gets her degree from FAU

Juvenile Diversion Program Supervisor Sherwood “Woody” Hanford is pictured with one of his Take Stock In Children Mentees. Ameilla Harrisingh is a 2008 graduate of Coral Shores High School and just got her Bachelor’s degree in business from Florida Atlantic University. Hanford regularly mentors kids in the Take Stock program and in other, similar mentoring programs.

Mark Coleman promoted


The Islamorada Sheriff’s Substation has welcomed a new sergeant recently. Mark Coleman, previously a detective in the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit was promoted to sergeant and started working road patrol in that district last week.

Sheriff's Office partners with Riva South Motorsports

The Sheriff’s Office gives a big thanks to Riva South Motorsports for their generous yearly donation of Waverunners to the agency. The donated Waverunners allow the Sheriff’s Office to do close offshore patrols of neighborhoods and marinas. During the two day sport lobster season, and during regular lobster and fishing seasons they also allows for marine and environmental patrols that supplement regular Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit patrols.

Corrections recruits report for training

 The new Corrections Academy recruits reported this week for orientation at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters building. HR Specialist Charles Slebodnick spoke to the about their employment with the Sheriff’s Office while Training Captain Penny Phelps tormented them with “team building” exercises. In the photo, bottom left, they had to stand on small tablecloths, and figure out how to turn the cloths over without stepping off of them.


August 3, 2012

Roast the Sheriff for Charity!


Fun event for a great cause!


Donation to Animal Farm

Lt. Melissa Reynolds from Punta Gorda Police Department visited the Keys this week as part of the CFA Accreditation team examining the Sheriff's Office for re accreditation. She also brought ten bags of horse feed with her as a donation to the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm.

Health Department donates helmets

Monroe County Health Department recently donated 10 bike helmets to the Sheriff’s Office School Resource Unit as part of a countywide bicycle safety effort. Here, SRO Deputy Larry O’Neill accepts the donation from Health Department employee Mark Terrill who is also the owner of Key Largo Bike and Adventure Tours (keylargobike.com).

Sheriff's lieutenant gets scholarship

Florida Police Accreditation Coalition President Juliane Day traveled to Monroe County to award Lt. Jonathan the Academic Scholarship in the amount of $2,000.  The Fla-PAC accepts applications from law enforcement professionals who are working towards furthering their education.  One scholarship is awarded annually. In the photo, Chief Tommy Taylor, Lt. Crane and President Day.

Search warrant served on Stock Island


Stock Island - Sheriff's Special Investigations Detectives served a search warrant at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at a residence on Stock Island.

The warrant was served at 5507 5th Avenue, Lot B. As Detectives were approaching the residence, they encountered 47 year old Ramon Fernandez driving a scooter and he was detained. Inside the residence, Detectives located Alexis Benitez. Inside Benitez’ wallet was approximately one gram of suspected cocaine. A search of Fernandez’ vehicle that was parked outside turned up a wrapped kilogram of suspected cocaine with an estimated street value of $25,000.00. In the house, detectives turned up  $1,241.00 cash, digital scales for weighing illegal substances, baggies for packaging and cutting agents commonly used to dilute cocaine.

Fernandez’ scooter, vehicle and currency were seized as part of the investigation.

Ramon Fernandez, 47, was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, attaching a registration plate not assigned to the scooter, and possession of a vehicle with an altered/removed VIN number.

Alexis Benitez, 39, was charged with possession of cocaine.

Man charged with fondling girl


Key Largo – A Fort Pierce man is under arrest, charged with fondling a young girl at a Key Largo campground Thursday night.

The 16 year old victim was traveling to the Keys with the suspect, 45 year old Ronald Clark. She and her mother were  reportedly not getting along and Clark agreed to take her on a weekend trip to give both of them a break from each other.

The victim told Detective Geni Hernandez they were setting up camp at Calusa Campground when the incident occurred. She said he asked her to sit in his lap. She said he then put his hand in her pants and fondled her.

She said she got up and moved away from him; she said she told him she wanted to go to Publix because she was hungry. He took her to the store and, once there, the victim told store employees what happened and they called police at 10:15 p.m.

Deputies and detectives responded and placed Clark under arrest. He was charged with sexual assault on a minor and child cruelty and he was booked into jail.

Canadian man arrested for exposing himself


Key Largo - A Canadian man was arrested late Thursday for exposing and fondling himself in front of two young girls.

The girls reported the incident to their parents, who called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies Brian Cross and Vaughn O’Keefe arrived at Key Largo campground just before midnight. They met with the victims, who described the man to them. The girls said they were riding a bike and a scooter around the campground when 23 year old Philippe Charron walked up to them. He had his pants down and he was fondling himself. The girls said they were afraid and they fled the area. The waited several hours to tell their parents because they said they were afraid of the parent’s reaction to the information.

Charron was found at his campsite. He was positively identified by the girls and was arrested. He was charged with two counts lewd and lascivious behavior and he was booked into jail.